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De Hoop Scheffer at the NATO meeting in Slovenia on September 28 (NATO)
September 29, 2006 -- NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer today called on Russia and Georgia to de-escalate tensions over the arrest in Tbilisi this week of four Russian officers on spy charges.
De Hoop Scheffer was speaking in Slovenia after NATO defense ministers met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.
Russia has asked the UN Security Council to censure Georgia over the September 27 arrests, calling them "dangerous and unacceptable."
Russia began evacuating personnel today from its embassy in Tbilisi.
But recalled Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko said Moscow would send lawyers to Georgia to defend its nationals in court. The four military officers were formally charged today with spying.
In Moscow, demonstrators outside the Georgian Embassy held banners calling for "Freedom for the Russian Officers." Demonstrators also threw a pig's head at a window of the embassy building.
(AFP, dpa. ITAR-TASS)